The first Dhaba of the country dates back to the time of Sher Shah Suri – with the first highway of the country, the first dhaba was born. Though it is not documented, dhaba has been an integral part of our country for more than half a millennium. Tea and coffee, on the other hand, is largely a British import but initially, its use was restricted till just the elites. It was only in the early 1920s when tea was commercialized and the entire population became addicted to it. The small tea-stalls, found on every road-corner of the country, soon became part of our map. Tapris- as the Mumbaikars have made these stalls famous – are surely the best place for social gathering here.
Are you one of those who feel uncomfortable in the strictness and etiquette filled fine dining restaurants? You are not alone. Many of us often don’t like the atmosphere of these dimly lit places with whispering sounds all around. When it comes to a Dhaba or a Tapri, a fine dining restaurant can have absolutely no competition. The charm of a dhaba, the full of life atmosphere is the right place to fill the belly and return with a fresh mind.
There are 9 very good reasons why you should always head towards a dhaba or a tapri – and not a restaurant.
Be Yourself – Go As you like:
These are not those places where you have to dress for your dinner. Be comfortable in the best casual attire, fold your legs while seating, get rid of your chappal and simply enjoy the atmosphere. There will be nobody to check if your shirt has a stain or your shoe has a mark of mud. It’s like your own home where you are the boss and if you are feeling tired – don’t worry you can yawn with your mouth fully open, incline on the charpai and relax.
Chhotu – Your boy:
Here you don’t have to casually wave to call the waiter and speak a lot of English for your order. If it is a dhaba or a Tapri, there has to be a chhotu ready to serve you. You don’t even have to look at chhotu – simply give a wild shout and the chhotu will be in front of you. You feel like having some extra butter on your roti – a ‘Chhotu Makkhan La’ will be enough for that. Get a seat on the bench or a nice corner under the tree and signal towards the ‘chaiwala’ – chhotu, with his signature carrier made of wire, will be there to serve you the tea.
Silent eating is just not the thing:
You know when you are a gang and you have so much to talk about. In those jail-like restaurants, you must have faced a lot of objection from other tables – well! That’s not going to happen here. Speak in the highest pitch of your volume and nobody will complain. Tapris are less tea stall and more gossip place – this is one place where you get an analysis of anything and everything. The topic can cover everything from the secret relationship between a manager and his assistant to India’s performance in last night’s cricket match.
Eat like a king and pay like a beggar:
There will not be a hundred types of taxes and with that courtesy of tipping someone for doing their own job. Here you get plates full of food at very less cost and you pay for what you see. Most dhabas come with a refilling option which you cannot even imagine in a restaurant. You don’t have to wait for the food, you don’t have to wait for the waiters to arrive – everything will be to the best of their service without any extra charge.
Eat under the stars:
Enjoying the twinkling starts along with butter chicken is something heavenly. Being located away from the cities, Dhabas always provide a very clear sky above and looking up can give you goosebumps – it is the very sky you have been living all these years under that looks so fascinating. With that, the mild breeze will take all your fatigue away – it’s naturally air-conditioned.
Best of the tastes:
Be sure to get the best tastes in a Dhaba food. Almost all Dhabas serve indigenous foods which the cooks have been preparing for years. They are the experts and you cannot have the same taste in a restaurant. A restaurant’s cappuccino can never compete with the ‘Kadak Chai’ of the tapri– in terms of relaxing you or getting yourself going for few more hours of hard work.
The Art is in the fingers:
Don’t give a shock to the owner by asking a fork and a knife – use your fingers and that’s the best way of enjoying a meal. You can never get the same taste with a spoon or a fork. Here you don’t have to bother about table manners, paneer or chicken, roti or achaar all can be eaten with hands and ones you do it, you will always end up licking your fingers. That’s the real art of eating.
Amused? – Sing:
Can you imagine a lady suddenly starting to sing inside a restaurant? You are not yourself there. In a dhaba or a tapri, you can fully express yourself. If you are angry, release it shouting, if you are happy, start singing a song, you might get a companion who starts singing with you or dancing to your song from the other table. It is not only the food; it is the experience that matters.
They are everywhere:
Dhabas and tapirs are everywhere. Even if you are a few thousand feet above the ground, they are there to serve you. Even places where cars cannot reach and where a man can only reach by trekking, dhabas have made their existence and are saving humankind from hunger.